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Orsanmichele (Template:IPA-it) (or "Kitchen Garden of St. Michael", from the contraction in Tuscan dialect of the Italian word orto) is a church in the Italian city of Florence. The building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, which is now gone.

Located on the Via Calzaiuoli in Florence, the church was originally built as a grain market<ref name=arch>Template:Cite book</ref> in 1337 by Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante, and Benci di Cione. Between 1380 and 1404 it was converted into a church used as the chapel of Florence's powerful craft and trade guilds. On the ground floor of the square building are the 13th-century arches that originally formed the loggia of the grain market. The second floor was devoted to offices, while the third housed one of the city's municipal grain storehouses, maintained to withstand famine or siege.<ref name=arch/> Late in the 14th century, the guilds were charged by the city to commission statues of their patron saints to embellish the facades of the church.<ref name=arch/> The sculptures seen today are copies, the originals having been removed to museums (see below).


Inside the church is Andrea Orcagna's bejeweled Gothic Tabernacle (1355-59) encasing a repainting by Bernardo Daddi's of an older icon of the 'Madonna and Child'.


The facades held 14 architecturally designed external niches, which were filled from 1399 to around 1430. The three richest guilds opted to make their figures in the far more costly bronze, which cost approximately ten times the amount of the stone figures.

Niche Statue Sculptor Guild Year Notes
120px Madonna of the Rose Pietro di Giovanni Tedesco Medici e Speziali
(doctors and apothecaries)
120px Quattro Santi Coronati
(Four Crowned Martyrs or Four Saints)
Nanni di Banco Maestri di Pietra e Legname
(wood and stone workers)
120px St. Mark Donatello Arte dei Linaiuoli e Rigattieri
(linen-weavers and peddlers)
120px St. Philip Nanni di Banco Arte dei Calzaiuoli
120px Christ and St. Thomas Andrea del Verrocchio Tribunale di Mercanzia
1467-83 Replaced St. Louis of Toulouse by Donatello (1413)
120px St. Eligius Nanni di Banco Arte dei Maniscalchi
120px St. James Niccolò di Piero Lamberti Arte dei Pellicciai
1415 Attribution and year are uncertain
120px St. Peter Ciuffagni Arte dei Beccai
120px St. John the Baptist Lorenzo Ghiberti Arte di Calimala
(The Guild of Merchants of Calimala)
120px St. George Donatello Arte dei Corazzai
120px St. Matthew Lorenzo Ghiberti Arte del Cambio
120px St. Stephen Lorenzo Ghiberti Arte della Lana
(wool manufacturers)
120px St. John the Evangelist Baccio da Montelupo Arte della Seta
(silk merchants)
120px St. Luke Giambologna Giudici e Notai
(magistrates and notaries)

Modern assessment

250px Orsanmichele's statuary is a relic of the fierce devotion and pride of Florentine trades, and a reminder that great art often arises out of a competitive climate. Each trade hoped to outdo the other in commissioning original, groundbreaking sculptures for public display on Florence's most important street, and the artists hired and materials used (especially bronze) indicate the importance that was placed on this site.

Today, all of the original sculptures have been removed and replaced with modern duplicates to protect them from the elements and vandalism. The originals mainly reside in the museum of Orsanmichele, which occupies the upper floor of the church, and can be seen on every Monday, the only day when the museum is open. Two works by Donatello are in other Florentine museums: St. George and its niche are in the Bargello, and St. Louis of Toulouse is in the museum of the Basilica di Santa Croce.


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